Chinese tech giant and retailer Alibaba recently announced their plan to develop giant vehicle vending machines where customers can purchase cars.
TechCrunch reports that following e-commerce and retail giant Alibaba’s announcement that they would help car manufacturer Ford sell their electric vehicles in China, the company has revealed plans for a giant vehicle vending machine which would store multiple cars and allow customers to purchase a vehicle with the ease of purchasing a can of Coke. The main use of the vending system would be to allow customers to easily test drive a number of cars before choosing which one they’d like to purchase using Alibaba’s online store, Taobao.
Alibaba, which has a large online presence in the Chinese sales market, has been making efforts to combine their online platforms with their real-world retail operations. The vehicle vending machine in conjunction with the Taobao online retail platform is one of the company’s biggest efforts in this direction so far. The vehicle vending machine works by allowing customers to select the car they want via the Taobao app, pick the color car they want, enter basic personal information and take a selfie. The customer then goes to the vending machine, scans their face and retrieves the car they picked for a test drive.
The test drives last for three days, then customers can purchase the car via the Taobao app or they can choose to test drive a different model car. Two of these stores are expected to open in January according to Alibaba, one will be based in Shanghai while the other will be located in Nanjing. Alibaba plans to open dozens more of the stores across China in 2018.
However, due to the risky nature of allowing anyone to test drive a car for three days, there will be restrictions in place, such as a limit of five test drives over the course of two months. The identity of those testing the cars will be verified by Alibaba’s financial services, leaving a lot of responsibility on the company itself. Users will only be capable of ordering a free test drive if they’ve reached a certain status in the Zhima credit-scoring service and they must also be Alibaba Super Members.